Released in 2011, Tycoon rivals or surpasses Celebrity tomato performance
Writer: Robert Burns, 903-312-3199, firstname.lastname@example.org
COLLEGE STATION — Tycoon tomato has many characteristics that rival or even best the Celebrity tomato, the long-standing favorite of many commercial and home growers, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service horticulturist.
Tycoon tomato has superior resistance to diseases and nematodes, and it can produce very large fruit of superior quality. All these characteristics and more won it the Texas Superstar title, said David Rodriguez, AgriLife Extension agent for horticulture in Bexar County and member of the Texas Superstar selection board.
For example, Tycoon is resistant to tomato yellow leaf curl virus, a disease that has become a major problem for many varieties in the past few years, Rodriguez said. It is also resistant to the fungi verticillium and fusarium, races one and two, and tomato spotted wilt virus, as well as nematodes.
Tycoon is an annual and determinant variety, which means that it is bushy rather than vining, and produces and ripens all its initial fruit crop at nearly the same time, most often within about a two-week period, he said.
Most home gardeners as well as commercial growers prefer determinant varieties because they’re easier to manage and usually don’t take up as much space. Also, the plants continue to produce fruit well into the summer, another plus for Texas gardeners.
As if all these favorable characteristics weren’t enough to qualify Tycoon as a Texas Superstar, it’s also capable of growing very large tomatoes, Rodriguez said. A common-size tomato for most reliable varieties, including Celebrity, is about 6 to 8 ounces.
“But we’ve been seeing and hearing reports from other growers as well that under optimum management, Tycoon can produce tomatoes 1 pound and larger and of very high quality,” he said.
As for flavor, that’s a subjective matter, Rodriguez noted, but Tycoon does have a very good sugar-to-acid ratio, which should please most people’s taste.
All Texas Superstar plants undergo extensive tests throughout the state by Texas A&M AgriLife Research and AgriLife Extension horticulturists, said Dr. Brent Pemberton, AgriLife Research horticulturist and chair of the Texas Superstar executive board, Overton.
To be designated a Texas Superstar a plant must perform well for consumers and commercial growers throughout Texas, Pemberton said. Superstars must also be easy to propagate—which ensures the plants are not only widely available throughout Texas, but also reasonably priced.
In addition to disease resistance, summer plants must tolerate Texas heat well, and Tycoon has proven itself exceptional in this regard too, Rodriguez said.
“Tycoon was released at the San Antonio Livestock Exposition in 2011,” Rodriguez said. “A good chunk of the tomatoes that are released locally here in San Antonio tend to be looked at real closely in the rest of the state. We have been testing Tycoon at the tomato trials we do here in south Bexar County since about 2007 or 2008. We’ve been getting real good results locally, thanks to help from cooperators like Verstuyft Farms and Rodney Peterson of Peterson Brothers wholesale nursery, as well as statewide.”
Tycoon’s resistance to tomato yellow leaf curl virus was a major factor in its being chosen as a Superstar, he said.
“In the fall, within about a 150 mile radius of San Antonio, when they start defoliating cotton, we get a lot of whiteflies driven into the urban areas,” Rodriguez said. “Whiteflies are a vector of the virus, and it’s been devastating for growers in the San Antonio area, as well as others, such as in the Rio Grande Valley.
“In a randomized block planting of different varieties—AgriLife Extension’s fall trials test the same varieties as in the spring—they were all devastated by the disease, except for a plant here and a plant there, which was unaffected. And guess what that unaffected plant was: Tycoon.”
Optimum management for Tycoon is the same as other determinate tomatoes, he said. It needs full sun, and should be planted early spring after the danger of frost has passed. In the summer, optimum planting times are 80 to 90 days prior to the first freeze in the fall, and it’s best to use high quality transplants. If seed is used, it should be started six to eight weeks prior to the planting date. And, as it is a bushy determinant variety that can grow 3 to 4 feet tall and 2 to 3 feet wide, Tycoon will need to be staked.
Fall-planted tomatoes go in as early as July 4 to no later than late August, Rodriguez said.
“Back in the early 80s, Celebrity tomato, which is probably still the traditional standby tomato that everyone should grow as the backup tomato, has become an all-American selection tomato,” Rodriguez said. “At this point, looking at how Tycoon has been performing and from feedback from others, in the future we think it will possibly be as highly ranked as Celebrity.”
Texas Superstar is a registered trademark owned by Texas A&M AgriLife Research, a state agency that is part of the Texas A&M University System. More information about the Texas Superstar program can be found at http://texassuperstar.com/.
Along with Pemberton and Rodriguez, other Texas Superstar board members include Dr. Cynthia McKenney, Texas Tech University, Lubbock; Dr. Mike Arnold, AgriLife Research, College Station; Dr. Larry Stein, AgriLife Extension, Uvalde; Dr. Dan Lineberger, AgriLife Research, College Station; and Dr. Tim Davis, AgriLife Research, College Station.